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Anti-fracking charter amendment soundly defeated in Youngstown

Published: Wed, May 8, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Opponents of a citizen- organized anti-fracking charter amendment said the voters made the right choice in rejecting the ballot issue.

While opponents said the amendment wouldn’t have been enforceable if approved, they’re glad they don’t have to concern themselves with that issue.

“I fully respect those who are truly concerned about the environment,” said Alan D. Wenger, an attorney with Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell and chairman of the law firm’s oil and gas practice group. “They were well-meaning, but the charter amendment was ill- conceived and I’m glad it went down. I hope those who are vigilant will continue to be vigilant.”

Wenger is a member of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, which opposed the proposed charter amendment contending the provisions in the ballot language were unconstitutional and far reaching.

Youngstown voters reject- ed the charter amendment proposal 57 percent to 43 percent, according to final-but-unofficial totals from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

Susie Beiersdorfer, a member of the Community Bill of Rights Committee that supported the amendment, said, “It’s a sad day for democ- racy. With the resources we had, it was an incredible effort, but we were outspent by the opponents.”

But this isn’t the end for the committee, many of whom also are members of Frack Free Youngstown.

“We’re going to have to work a little harder the next time,” said Beiersdorfer, who also won the Green Party’s primary Tuesday for Youngstown council president. “We’ll be back. We’ll regroup and figure out what we’re doing. We’re going to continue to fight to protect health and public safety.”

“With tonight’s vote, the people of Youngstown have announced that the city is open for business,” Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber President Tom Humphries said in a statement after the votes were tallied. Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said the results demonstrated “the voters had no sympathy for those who want to hold us back.”

Lynn Anderson, also a member of the committee and Frack Free Youngstown, agreed that the amendment supporters weren’t going away.

“We stood up to protect people’s drinking water and their health,” she said.

Supporters and opponents of the citizens-based charter amendment have disagreed on whether it was enforceable.

Supporters say similar proposals have been adopted across Ohio and the country, and are enforceable.

Opponents say the charter- amendment language attempts to circumvent the federal and state constitutions, and no city charter amendment can legally do that.

Even so, opponents say the charter amendment would have created uncertainty for potential companies looking to open and expand in Youngstown, thus adversely impacting business. The issue, they say, would have likely been resolved in court, which also wouldn’t be good for business.

Opponents also contended the amendment language could be interpreted to make many common things illegal, such as driving a car. One provision calls for the “right to breathe air untainted by toxins, carcinogens, particulates and other substances known to cause harm to health.”

But supporters say that wasn’t the intent of the law and the language was misinterpreted to confuse voters.

The state Legislature approved laws nine years ago to take over control of gas and oil drilling from local governments.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials have repeatedly said the state has complete oversight when it comes to fracking, and nothing done by a community can change that.

Organized labor played a big role in working to defeat the charter amendment.

“Our late push to get out the vote worked,” said Jaladah Aslam, staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8. “It was bad legislation for the community. Youngstown has finally turned a corner. The language was way too harsh and would have interfered with the economic comeback.”

Fracking has been a hot-button issue in Youngstown.

The ODNR linked 13 earthquakes in 2011, most notably a magnitude-4.0 quake on New Year’s Eve, to a deep-injection well, owned by D&L Energy Group. The state agency placed an indefinite suspension on that well and other D&L injection wells within a seven-mile radius.

Injection wells are used to dispose of the brine wastewater, a fracking byproduct.

The owner and an employee of Hardrock Excavating, a D&L sister company, were indicted a few months ago after it was learned that hundreds of thousands of gallons of fracking waste was dumped multiple times between Nov. 1, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013, into a storm drain on Salt Springs Road that flows into a tributary that feeds into the Mahoning River.

In October 2012, Youngs-town City Council approved legislation by a 5-2 vote to allow the city administration to solicit offers from companies to lease city-owned land for gas and oil drilling. But the administration has yet to take any steps to move on the issue.


1Cubbies(37 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

It's a sad day when the deep pockets of the gas/oil industry were able once again to convince the media and Joe Public to buy another pig in the poke by convincing them that jobs and money will come to the poor in Y-town by supporting fracking. When the money rolls in to help the poor and clean up Youngstown's blight, please wake me up. I'm not expecting a wake-up call.

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2Silence_Dogood(1677 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

If you anti-fracking crowd are sad today may I suggest that you go hug a tree, you might find comfort there.

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3CantStandYa(222 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

What a goddamn joke of a community.

Why don't you just elect Ben Lupo as your next mayor???


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4ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

What they meant by "sad day for democracy" is that they actually had to let the people vote instead of just forcing this down our throats.

I was down along the Ohio River yesterday from Parkersburg up to Wheeling and East Liverpool, and the amount of oil and gas activity is astounding. There are numerous staging yards for pipe, trucks driving around everywhere, support businesses opening up, and many of the closed mill buildings now have gas industry companies opening up shop. And yet nobody down there is complaining of contaminated water wells.

The defeat of this stupid amendment has renewed a bit of my faith in the people of Youngstown to do the right thing.

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5republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Ding-dong the witch is dead!

Now Youngstown can rebuild and harvest the bounty of the land. The tree-huggers can go live in their tents and caves and eat raw vegetables.

The rest of us are looking onward and upward to a brighter future.

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6Cubbies(37 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The "No" supporters got their message out and won the day. But I'd still rather hug a tree than a fracking well.

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7walter_sobchak(2727 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

"sad day for democracy"! What a joke. No doubt that liberalism is a mental disorder. You passed your petitions, got your issue on the ballot and it was soundly defeated. But, the liberals ALWAYS know better than the stupid people. Just ask Chris Mathews; they are never wrong. They even like to smell their own farts since they don't stink!Now, hopefully, the city will lease its land and let a company drill on it.

BTW, if it wasn't for that gas well, you wouldn't be able to hug that tree because you would have to cut it down for firewood to keep warm or cook.

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8SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Formerdemliberal, some people have to teach others. For instance let's look at your comment, " I thought democracy is all about majority rules. Guess the frackists forgot that civics lesson. The only "civics" these people know is the car."

You are right democracy is about majority rule which is why this country was founded as a Republic. Somehow with people like yourself you have helped strip away the very foundation this nation was built upon. People have to fight for rights that naturally should be given to them their children and their families like clean air and clean water. They have to fight to have their voices heard.

Just a couple years ago this measure would have had a wider margin of defeat, this tells us more people are beginning to understand, see and feel the effects of this process contrary to the lies of the industry.

People shouldn't have to endure death so a company can conduct "business".

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9JoeFromHubbard(1815 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

It appears that the majority of post here thus far understand the definition of "democracy" and why industrial progress must be maintained in Youngstown.

To those who want to tax oil and gas use out of existence, please tell me of an acceptable replacement that is truly viable in the real world at today's level of technology.

The vote on this issue shows that there are a majority of realists and a minority of those fearful of their imaginary illusions.

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10redeye1(5670 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

STOP You are the perfect example of the fools who tried to cram this amendment down the peoples throat. Now you want to tax all fossil fuels so high that no one could afford them. Brilliant!!!!!! How are you suppose to heat your home? How are you suppose to go shopping? Providing you have the money for even buying food. You freakin LIBERALS are nothing more then a bunch of sore losers. Oh wait, your great leader has really shown you people the way. Hasn't he Where's is Hagan on this lose. Probably driving to columbus in his car .

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11James_S(268 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Don't forget- the profrackers have all agreed to EXPORT the gas.... so, that little tree might still yet have to be burned.

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12SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Walter, to respond to your comment, ignorance is bliss such as stated in your comment as well as the comments from RobX and JoefromHubbard.

Even after you are told this country is a Republic you still spew words about democracy. Do you really wonder why some might think there is ignorance that needs some correction?

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself."John Adams

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13JoeFromHubbard(1815 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

A democratic government affords all people an equal say and relies upon a majority rule.

Don't be disappointed if your say falls within the minority.

The life of a democracy declines when the majority chooses unsustainable government largess. It becomes a self sustaining phenomenon until collapse.

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14walter_sobchak(2727 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The FEDERAL government is a true democratic republic as we, the people, directly vote on nothing that pertains to the structure. Even Pres and Veep are elected by the Electoral College. But our STATE of Ohio is not a full republic since we have the right of referendum by petition on state issues as long as they are not in conflict with the US Constitution, as this issue most assuredly was. For instance, the state of Ohio Govt enacted SB5 in a "republic" fashion. But, the people, using referendum, had the measure repealed. Is this the tyranny of the majority that we should be concerned about?

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15TERRAPINST(321 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Love formerdemliberal: I bet the anti-frackers would have gotten more votes if their poll-workers would have bathed prior to trying to angle support. Did you see those folks yesterday? No wonder they call themselves the green party, based on the color of their teeth. I mean geez folks-wise up.

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16rkean(1 comment)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

No one has yet commented on the article's statement of fact: "The state legislature approved laws 9 years ago to take over control of gas and oil drilling from local governments." Who wrote the legislation 9 years ago for the state legislators? Could it have been the ALEC legislation mill and corporate hand maiden?

Citizens of Youngstown, smelly hippies with green teeth are not the problem. The problem is vulture capitalists who throw us a bone in the way of a few jobs and then pollute our water and poison our soil while having already removed the legal possibility of us doing anything about it.

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17SonsOfLiberty(14 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Formerdemliber, let me say you are what is known as an addlepate incapable of reading on a grade school level. Allow me to validate as I have previously just how ignorant you are.

First, no one talked about the Constitution in this thread, no one. Since I must once again educate you on the basic formulation of this country if you can read below, big if considering your previous diatribe, please do.

People of this country are seen to have rights outside of the Constitution. These rights are known as unalienable rights. See the founders in the Declaration of Independence decided to state the following " in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

So there you have it.. The founders believed all of us have rights above just those you claim to have read in the Constitution.

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18DwightK(1537 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

We should keep the waste out of Ohio. If PA doesn't want it I don't know why we would want to be their garbage dump.

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19williamsbilly201(18 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Hey Dwight. Educate yourself. PA does not have the proper geology to inject brine and wastewater. We here in Ohio have the proper geologic formations to inject the brine. Also we get a large amount of tax dollars from injectin PA wastewater.

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20oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Just judging from your comment it would appear that you suffer from the disorder known as liberalism.

One of the symptoms of the disorder is a willingness to lie. In my opinion omission of facts or distortion of facts is the same as a lie.

Your comment falls into the latter, a distortion of facts. The earthquakes and the action of Ben Lupo were not caused by shale development. To me that is a lie.

Your implied contention that shale development should not benefit Youngstown because of law breakers such as Lupo is silly.
To follow your lo, gic we should close gas stations and convenience stores in Youngstown because they get robbed.
In other words law abiding businesses should be punished because they offer an opportunity for someone to break the law.

I know you probably can't see how flawed that thought process is; because you suffer from the disorder of liberalism.

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21oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


It is ridiculous to suggest that we, the American people, have rights outside those expressed in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the Constitution.

The unalienable rights were expressed in the Constitution.

Where did you get your belief that there were some rights that the founders missed ?

Oh, I know; you are one of those that believe that Constitution is a living breathing document that can grow and change.

The founders said all there was to be said on the subject when they wrote the Constitution. They were also smart enough to know that they didn't know everything. So they wrote into the Constitution a mechanism for correction, it's called the amendment process. Something you liberals hate.

The Constitution of the State of Ohio has a similar process ensconced in law. The fractivists involved in the charter amendment do not like that process and decided to make an end run with the charter amendment in Youngstown. Fortunately , the voters of Youngstown were smarter than the misinformation campaign the fractivists presented.

The voting public in Youngstown believe in Constitutional governance and rejected the attack by the fractivists on our special American form of self governance.

God Bless America, and God Bless Youngstown.

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22lovedrama(139 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The rich will get richer. People who need jobs will take some $hitty low paying environment destroying job to line the wealthy oil corporations pockets again, meanwhile Youngstown stays in the mentality that "we will improve". No whole foods, food co-ops, one vegan restaurant, trashy brown water in every lake and river around already---and people making fun of individuals looks because they disagree with their viewpoints? Should bring back jobs via the milkman and bottle collectors and eliminate plastic. Those of u who do not care and just want jobs should lobby for lower student loan rates and textbook ripoff prices so anyone can go to college and not be in debt forever and forsake school for a dead end backbreaking destructive job. So glad to be out of Youngstown but sad for everyone who cannot leave with this mentality abounding.

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23PagansRock(6 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Not long ago people thought (and some idiots still think) that Global Warming was a myth, now it's too late to prevent it and our children, grandchildren and so on will have to pay for that ignorance while rich got richer. It's really sad to see that so many have failed to learn from that.

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24RTS1416(117 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Funny, thats the second time you cracked me up lately Stan...
PagansRock, global warming capitalized? Really?

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25Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

@williamsbilly said ,"Hey Dwight. Educate yourself. PA does not have the proper geology to inject brine and wastewater. We here in Ohio have the proper geologic formations to inject the brine. Also we get a large amount of tax dollars from injectin PA wastewater." - - -

- -- So the earthquake never happened? Your full of crap.The taxes on brine are a joke. And PA doesn't want it because they have enough sense to reject that garbage.


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26williamsbilly201(18 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

BigBen you really want to "prove I am full of crap." Then you will really show me by not using any household items or anything else that is derived from fossil fuels. Live in a dirt/grass hut and eat rocks until you develop the perfect eco-friendly energy source. That will prove to us how serious everyone is about saving our environment. Youngstown is a perfect case of NIMBY (Not in my back yard). They LOVE using natural gas and oil but don't want any of it produced here.

P.S. There were 12 earthquakes linked to that injection well.

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27Metz10987(145 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Soundly defeated by less then 1,000 votes out of less then 7,000 total votes? Who wrote the headline. It proves that if you spend more money then the other side you will get the vote to swing your way. That is a insult to democracy and shows agaisnt how greedy people often are. Sammrone, the chamber of commerence, Betras and everyone else are paid off by the industry and none of them deserve to ever run again. I can bet you they have had illegal kickbacks right from the industry. half of these people are the same ones that after the whole Lupo ordeal wanted more local control, a few even signed the petition to put it on the ballot. Something is fishy there and we all now what that means given our regions history of corruption. The fight is far from over and the big shale gas companies will lose just like in New York and California where there are statewide bans on any shale gas drilling.

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28oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


How much money was spent by opponents to the charter amendment ? Where did the money come from ?
Please show your evidence that the Mayor, Mr. Betras..."and everyone else" were paid off.
The City Council by law had to allow the amendment to be placed on the ballot.
There is not a ban on shale development in NY or CA.
You are a perfect example of why the amendment failed, you use misinformation and lies to make your point. Voters saw through the misinformation and the lies.

No conspiracy hear. The opponents had the truth on their side and voters recognized it.

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29oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Who do think runs the colleges ? Liberals, Democrats. Who is our president? A liberal and a Democrat.

As long as liberals and Democrats run these schools you will always have huge student debt.

Amazingly, here in Ohio a Republican, John Kasich, has proposed reforming the cost at state colleges and universities. Who is opposing him ? The liberal democrats that run the schools and the liberal democrats in the legislature.

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30oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

williams is correct, the geology in most of PA will not support injection wells. Plus, until recently the state allowed for the disposal of waste fluids at municipal waste water treatment plants. So why would anyone look at injection wells?
Since the state outlawed disposal at these sites there has been testing of injection wells in areas that the geology "may" allow for injection wells

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31Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


"williams is correct, the geology in most of PA will not support injection wells. Plus, until recently the state allowed for the disposal of waste fluids at municipal waste water treatment plants. So why would anyone look at injection wells?" - - - -Injection wells , treatment plants, etc whatever, the point is PA doesn't want it period. Otherwise they wouldn't have been shipping to Ohio.

Next there are holes in your argument. The fluid was "until recently " being treated at treatment plants in Pa according to you. The "state" stopped this in PA according to you.

You say the geology is not suitable in most of PA meaning that some geology would be suitable meaning injection could be done there where it is suitable if they wanted it in PA.

How could that be are they just dumb over in PA ?
Even your own arguments support my earlier conclusion which is PA doesn't want it because they have enough sense to reject that garbage!

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32Metz10987(145 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I doubt all of Ohio supports injection wells, just like all of PA does not, go across the county line and I can assure you the geology does not suddenly change in Lawrence or Mercer county. Have you ever looked at a geologcial map ever UticaShale, the geology can vary in short distances but there is geologic formations vary similar in various parts of PA.

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